I know the words "amazing" and "Mama Guinea" never are seen together in a sentence. I've had guineas for a year, and the woman I purchased them from assured me I would be back this past Fall for more due to predators, wandering, etc, taking my five. But what I witnessed today was so, wow, extraordinary, that I really wanted to share a story showing that the stereotype that I've read countless times of "great layers (if you can find their nest-ha!), terrible mothers" isn't always true. But after reading that over and over again I thought that's just how it was. There was no such thing as a good Mama Guinea. And that compelled me to write this story to give some people hope that all those stories that I read isn't necessarily how it's going to go. We never planned to bring Keets into the world but our one female guinea out of five was determined to be a mom. Through at least four or five, rather frightening, thunderstorms, on June 18th (Happy Father's Day boys!) the nest she'd been protecting for three weeks starting hatching 18 (out of 24 eggs) strong, healthy, beautiful baby keets. But we were still concerned. We kept reading what terrible mothers guineas were and we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Alright, she warmed her eggs in bad weather and now would she just pop up and say, bye kids? Well, the overcautious person that I am, I desperately wanted to intervene and scoop them up and put them in a brooder box so they'd be safe and warm and have food and water. How could I rely on her to keep all 18 warm and safe when her breed had such a terrible reputation? Despite my wanting Mama Guinea to raise them (that would be great!), I still wanted to take them. But I held back. We knew a storm was coming and we tried to put a big beach umbrella over Mama and a board to redirect water to go around her because she was on a slope and water flooded that nest of eggs two weeks earlier. That was the WORST idea ever. NEVER, EVER, try and introduce something foreign to them in an already anxious state of time. She freaked out and ran through the woods. And here we were running around trying to collect all 18 keets that obviously couldn't keep up running over the branches and leaves. Thankfully, all 18 were safe. We put them in a container and brought them to the Guinea run and Mama came and settled over top of them like the good Mama she was. And then one of the worse thing that can threaten the keets ability to survive happened- it rained. And it didn't just rained. I mean it RAINED. Thunder. Lightening. I knew how bad rain was for day old keets. I was reading and reading. "They can't get wet because then they die, they can't get cold because then they die, they can't this, they can't that...because then they die" I obviously wasn't going to let them be washed away or chill to death so my reluctant decision was made for me. It started pouring and although she was trying to lay on them I didn't trust she'd actually be able to keep them safe and dry. Taking them was a nightmare, not only was she flipping out, so were her four bodyguards/baby daddies. But we took them put them inside the coop in a brooder box with an Ecoglow (if you don't know what that is and you have chicks or will and use a heat lamp, invest in an Ecoglow- BEST THING EVER.) I did both the heat lamp the first time around and the Ecoglow the second. I was always so worried about the heat lamp being too high, too low, to hot, too cold, burning out, falling, etc, etc. The EcoGlow was perfect. Back to those keets, I considered putting them back with her the next day after the storm but the bad weather continued and I'll be honest, I was incredibly relieved to know all 18 little bodies were safe, warm, fed, and watered in the brooder. We only had them a week because someone we knew wanted all 18! Which is more wonderful than we could have every hoped for. So I thought we were done with keets! It was exciting but nerve-wracking. That was June 19th and today on September 6th, that same Mama Guinea just hatched four keets....When I noticed she had gone broody again so soon after hatching such a big flock, I went to the same places that repeatedly told me she wouldn't be a good mom and told me she definitely wouldn't go broody again. She had only started laying eggs and now she was going to go broody on that nest too?! Back-to-back?! Everyone said it was unheard of. Mama Guineas only go broody three times a year. Well, this was one Mama that was determined to have some babies. Because broody she went. We start calculating how long until they hatch by when she settles and starts spending her days and nights there, and we calculated September 23rd. Six of the eggs were numbered and the last six she had laid a few days later on. Last night I did the daily routine of cleaning the coop, checking food levels, and giving the chickens and guineas fresh water. Mama Guinea's nest is about thirty feet away from the driveway right in the beginning of the woods so I see her when I past by but I don't go too close usually because she'll hiss and is very protective. They boys actually chased one of my dachshunds away and he never bothered her again! And Mama Guinea put my Belgian Malinois (German Shepherd-sized dog) in her place right away for getting too close! But last night about an hour before getting dark, I just had an urge to go look at her. She wasn't due for two weeks, but I thought I'd take over some scratch and from afar toss it by her if she wanted it. She was THRILLED for the food. And she turned to the left to reach one that was a little out of reach and what I NEVER expected to see was a keet to pop out from under her wing! It didn't make any sense! She'd only been consistently on the nest for a week or two. I wasn't ready for that! This time was going to be different though- weather permitting (and it's beautiful here in NC right now!) she was going to have sole responsibility (well, not sole, we're still putting out food, water, and are going to keep an eye on them- one isn't walking so well. I was hoping he/she was just born last but it's been quite a few hours and she hasn't been able to walk upright like the others, so I may have to intervene with that one but it's not going to be like last time). Mama Guinea desperately wanted to be a Mama. And this morning I watched her and her boys slowly take about 4 hours to make their way the maybe 75 feet from her nest to the run. It wasn't a far distance at all. But she would hunt and peck (all five plus four keets) and then she'd lay down and the four boys would surround her in a circle in high alert. Four hours. And she slowly would walk closer and closer to the Guinea run. And instead of walking directly through the grass cutting across (it would have been a lot faster), she went around the grass edge like she knew that they were too small to walk through the grass. I expected her to go the short way because why not? And I was so concerned with the morning dew on the grass and despite it being cut last night, the keets are just so tiny that it still looked too tall. But she knew. She knew the safest way for them. She had never walked along the outside perimeter of the grass. It's a big yard and it's such a detour from her nest to the run. She has always gone through the grass. But not with them. Mama Guinea keeps surprising me. She finally made it to their run and all five and four keets made their way in. It's a really big step so last night we compacted sand outside the run so there would be a slope up the step and now that they are in the run the keets won't be able to run out which is exactly what I want for the first week anyway, but Mama Guinea was able to make her own decision on going into the run and as soon as she made it in there she sat down and all the little keet feet ran under her to get warm. I have a feeling that she is going to continue being an amazing mother. There is just so much proof showing it. And the four boys are just as amazing, always standing in a circle around her, walking with her, they run when she calls (her call is very distinct from the others!), they keep a look out, or just lay down next to her and keep her company. They are so gentle and mindful of the keets. I hope that baby keet that is having trouble walking will be okay but besides that, I think they are in the best possible care because this morning when I saw them lay down together in the run, I smiled knowing that they are not the guinea stereotype. It warmed my heart seeing the guineas surround her while she was laying on the keets even in the run. And it amazed me to see one of the male guineas lay down right next to her at that same time and nuzzle her head showing affection. They aren't the guinea stereotype that I've read repeatedly about. They are a family and I wouldn't do anything to break that up again.